Is Freelance Writing Worth It?
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Are you someone who is a good writer? Maybe you’re currently stuck in a job you hate with a horrible boss and you are dreaming of a way to escape. Whatever the case, perhaps you’re considering a career as a freelancer and you are wondering: Is freelance writing worth it?
Many people earn full-time incomes as freelance writers working from home or other places. Success as a freelance writer depends on different factors like how well you market your services and the quality of work you do.
Whether freelancing is worth it for you depends on your unique situation. It depends on your goals, whether you like your current job, whether you are a good writer, and other factors.
To help you decide whether this is a good option for you or not, I’ve put together a list of pros and cons of freelance writing. This list doesn’t include every pro and con there is, of course, but it does give a general overview of some of the most common things that people like and don’t like about the business.
The Pros of Being a Freelance Writer
Is freelance writing worth it? There are many pros of the business to consider. Yes, as a freelance writer you will be in business for yourself. You will no longer be an employee.
Let’s take a look at some of the pros of being a freelance writer.
1. It’s an Affordable Business to Start
Any new business venture you start is going to require some money to get started. Many franchises, for example, require you to have a high net worth and spend a lot of money to buy into the franchise. Some fast-food franchises, for example, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s possible to finance a franchise fee, but it may take many years to repay it.
Starting a freelance writing business, in comparison, is very affordable. The majority of your expenses will be in building a website and will include a domain name, website hosting, and possibly a paid theme. Many people build their own websites, but it’s also possible to hire someone to do it for you.
2. You Can Set Your Own Schedule
As a freelance writer, your business will be highly flexible. You can set your own hours and work during times when you are most productive. If you need to take a 30-minute break and take a short nap, for example, you can do that. Try doing that at most jobs and see how it works out.
Are you most productive early in the morning? Perhaps you do your best work late at night. You can arrange your schedule so that you do the majority of your writing during times that work best for you.
Another great thing about this business is that you can take time off to do things when you need to. For example, if you need to go to a doctor’s appointment, you don’t have to ask a boss’s permission to leave work for a while. You just do it.
Being able to set your own schedule is also very important if you have children. Maybe you need to attend a school function for a couple of hours. Or perhaps one of your kids is sick and needs to come home from school early.
These things aren’t always easy to do if you work a regular job.
3. No Boss
This is, in my opinion, one of the best benefits of being a freelance writer. Not having a difficult boss to answer to is priceless.
This is one of the main reasons why I decided to become a freelance writer myself. After dealing with a string of very difficult bosses (to put it mildly), I decided that it was time to pursue self-employment. It was time to become my own boss.
Some say that as a freelance writer you are trading in one boss for several bosses (your clients). This is certainly true to a certain degree. However, as a freelance writer, you have the freedom to ditch a client if that person is not treating you well.
4. Work from the Comfort of Home
Do you like working in your pajamas? Maybe you just like working in a familiar environment that you are comfortable with instead of a stark office.
There’s just something about home that most people find comforting. It’s our happy place. In comparison, in many offices, you may have to adhere to company rules, and you may not even have a say in where you work in the office. Your designated work area is usually the place you are assigned to.
Another great benefit of working from home is that you can set the thermostat however you like it. Some people may prefer to keep their work environment cooler than what others prefer, for example. If you like your home to feel like the inside of a refrigerator, you are free to do that.
5. You Can Work Anywhere
The fact that you can take your work with you wherever you go is a major factor to consider with freelance writing.
While most freelance writers work from home, some prefer to do their writing in other places to minimize distractions or for other reasons. Just a few places freelance writers also work from include:
- Coffee shops
- Public Libraries
Another thing to consider with freelance writing is that you can take your work with you when you go on vacation. While this may sound like a bad thing at first, it’s important to keep in mind that with freelance writing you can take as many vacations as you want each year.
Another option to consider for freelance writers is to buy an RV and travel the country. As long as you have a laptop computer, a cell phone with good reception, and a good internet connection, you can work from just about anywhere.
6. No More Commute
Another important benefit of freelance writing to consider is that if you primarily work from home, you can completely ditch the commute to and from work.
If you live in a big city, I don’t have to tell you what a big deal this is. No more getting stuck in rush hour traffic, no more fighting for a parking spot, and no more commuting headache.
Another benefit of ditching the commute is you don’t have to rush to make it to work on time. If you wake up a little late, for example, you don’t have to hurry to get ready and fight traffic to make it to your job at the designated time that your workday is supposed to start.
The benefits of ditching the commute aren’t just limited to the time you save traveling to and from work. You will also save money on fuel for your vehicle, maintenance because you aren’t driving as much, and your vehicle may last longer because you are driving less.
7. No More Office Politics
Freelance writing may be worth it if you can’t stand dealing with office politics. As a freelance writer, you will not have to work in an office somewhere with coworkers. Most freelance writers work from home, which frees them from having to deal with office politics.
You won’t have to deal with annoying coworkers brown-nosing the boss for a pay raise or promotion. You also don’t have to worry about your coworkers trying to sign you up for the latest MLM program.
As a freelance writer, you also won’t have to deal with annual performance reviews. You will be accountable to yourself for how hard you work and how good of a job you do.
8. You Can Walk Away from a Bad Client
A great benefit of being a freelance writer is that if one of your clients is difficult, you have the option of firing that client and moving on. There’s nothing that says you have to keep a bad client who stresses you out.
As a freelance writer, you should always be marketing your services. Clients will come and go. Ideally, you will have several clients that you work with at any given time.
There’s nothing that says you have to work with any client that you don’t like. Freelance writers can be selective about the clients they take on.
9. Casual Work Attire
Being able to dress in comfortable clothes is another great benefit of being a freelance writer. Do you like to work in your pajamas or a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt? You can totally do that – whatever works for you.
Many companies have strict dress codes that you have to follow. This can be expensive if you have to buy a new wardrobe to work at a job. You may also have to pay extra for special dry cleaning services.
Being able to wear casual clothes while you are working may help you be more productive. Being comfortable while you are working is very important, and the clothes you wear can make a big difference in your mood and performance.
10. Increased Economic Security
An important benefit of freelance writing to consider is that it may give you more economic security.
There is no such thing as job security anymore. Many companies will not hesitate to lay employees off if management believes it will make the company more profitable.
If you have a job, you have one stream of income. What happens if you lose that job during bad economic times when jobs are hard to find?
As a freelance writer, you may end up writing for several clients at a time. If something happens and you lose one of your clients, you will have others to fall back on as you continue to market your services to attract another client to fill the gap.
The Cons of Being a Freelance Writer
While being a freelance writer may sound like a dream career when you go over the list of pros, it’s important to point out that there are some cons to the business to consider. You need to carefully consider both the pros and cons of freelance writing before deciding whether this is the right business opportunity for you to pursue.
1. Clients Don’t Always Pay on Time
A very important con of being a freelance writer is that your income can be sporadic. This is because clients don’t always pay on time. You may send an invoice to a client, for example, that says payment is due in 15 days, but it may take them much longer than that to pay you.
If you are used to having a bi-weekly paycheck, switching to invoicing clients and waiting for them to pay you can be a bit of a shock. Because of this, it’s important to have several months worth of savings built up before you decide to start freelancing full-time.
2. You Have to Constantly Market Your Services
Clients come and go. That’s another aspect of freelance writing that many people don’t like. Because of this, you have to constantly market your services to make sure you have enough clients to keep you busy to earn a full-time income.
Marketing your services isn’t too difficult, but some freelance writers don’t enjoy doing it. Some people send letters of introduction to prospective clients to introduce their business while others connect with prospective clients on LinkedIn and market through the platform.
3. You Sometimes Have to Work on Boring Projects
Another thing that those who are wondering is freelance writing worth it may not like is the fact that not all of the projects you work on will be interesting. Some, in fact, will be mind-numbing. Some projects will be so boring that you will have to force yourself to work on them to get them done.
As a freelance writer, you usually have to write whatever your clients need written. They will often have ideas on the subjects they want you to write about. You may occasionally be able to give suggestions on topics, but your clients will have the final say.
4. No More Employer Benefits
Another important thing to consider – and this is a big one – with freelance writing is that you will no longer receive employer benefits if you quit your job and freelance full-time.
Many people have jobs with some truly great benefits that may include health, dental, and vision insurance, vacation time, matching retirement benefits, educational benefits, and other perks.
If you are a full-time freelance writer who is no longer working a job, you will have to pay for any insurance plans you have yourself. And you may not be able to fully unplug during your vacation. Depending on your clients’ needs, you may have to take your work with you and do some writing while you are on a trip somewhere.
5. You Have to Manage Your Time and Block Distractions
Another thing about freelance writing that some may find difficult is that you have to manage your time. In other words, you have to block distractions and force yourself to get your work done.
This isn’t an easy thing for some people to do.
Many things in our homes can distract us. Just a few include the internet, social media, our kids, pets, the TV, and other things.
Many freelance writers avoid distractions by setting up offices in their homes where they can do their work. They may even keep office hours and shut their office doors while they are working with instructions to their families not to bother them unless it’s something important.
6. You Need to Be Able to Handle Criticism
Do you have thick skin? Are you able to handle criticism without folding like a lawn chair when someone says something negative about your work?
If you are considering starting a freelance writing business, you’ll need to be able to handle it professionally when someone criticizes your work – because it’s going to happen.
Doing revision work on writing projects is part of the job. It’s to be expected. Not every client will ask you to revise the content you write, but some will. It usually depends on how good of a job you do on the first draft.
Some freelance writers limit the number of revisions they will do for each job they complete, while others tell clients they will “revise until happy.”
7. It Requires Self-Motivation
It takes a lot of work to build a successful freelance writing business. Clients won’t just fall out of the sky with projects for you to work on just because you updated your LinkedIn account. You have to work hard to market your business.
As a freelance writer, you will probably also experience your share of setbacks as you grow your freelancing business. You may go through a season where the work dries up and you spend the majority of your time on marketing. You may also experience what’s known as “impostor syndrome” at some point where you question whether you are a good enough writer.
When you experience a downturn in your freelance writing business, you may have to force yourself to not give up and to keep moving forward. Depending on your circumstances, you may need a lot of self-motivation to keep going.
8. Work Isn’t Always Consistent
Just as your pay isn’t always consistent as a freelance writer, your work may also not be consistent.
One week things may be nice and steady. The next you may be so overwhelmed with projects and deadlines that you aren’t sure if you are going to get it all done on time. And the week after that you may not have much work at all.
Welcome to life as a freelance writer.
As a freelance writer, how much work you have will vary from week to week. You may be able to predict it to some degree, like if you have a retainer agreement with some of your clients to write weekly blog posts, but clients may have other projects they want you to work on that you didn’t expect.
The lack of consistency in the freelance writing business can make it difficult to plan for things like a vacation or a day off. This is the reason why many freelancers end up working while they are on vacation.
9. It Can Be a Lonely Career
Another negative thing to consider with a freelance writing career, is that you will most likely be spending a lot of time working alone. Many introverts are not bothered by this and may even love the idea of working in solitude without any distractions.
Extroverts, on the other hand, may struggle with working alone for long periods of time. Extroverts typically need to interact with other people regularly.
As a freelance writer working alone, you may have to make a point of getting out of the house on occasion so you don’t become a recluse. You could join a club, go to a gym, volunteer at a non-profit organization, or do something else to make sure you have some human interaction.
10. You Have to Run All Aspects of Your Business
Another thing about freelance writing that many people don’t like is the fact that you have to wear many different hats as a business owner. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to spend all of your time writing.
As previously mentioned, you will have to continually market your services. Sales and marketing is something that many people don’t like, but it’s a necessary part of the business. Many freelance writers start their workday by spending the first 30 minutes or so working on their marketing. They may send out a few emails introducing their services to marketing managers or connect with potential clients on LinkedIn.
Invoicing is another thing that freelance writers have to take care of. You will have to prepare and send invoices to your clients weekly. Most bookkeeping systems now let you send electronic invoices via email.
Recording all of your invoices and payments in your bookkeeping system is another thing you’ll have to do as a freelance writer. It usually doesn’t take much time to do this, and most computerized bookkeeping systems are relatively easy to learn.
Negotiating with new clients and dealing with contracts is another thing you’ll have to take care of as a freelance writer. When you talk to a client by phone for the first time, you’ll have to take the time to answer any questions that person may have. You may also have to negotiate a fee for your writing services and also talk to that person about agreeing to a work contract.
As a business owner, you will also have to troubleshoot any technical problems you encounter yourself. You won’t be able to call the company IT person, because there isn’t one.
Another thing you’ll have to take care of yourself is making quarterly estimated tax payments. This is something that most people don’t enjoy, and for good reason. Unlike employees who get to do their taxes once per year, business owners have to submit estimated tax payments every three months.
Living the Freelancer Life
Working as a freelance writer has many things going for it to consider. It gives you a great deal of flexibility and freedom, and you also get to work from home or from wherever else you are. The work can be interesting, and if a client doesn’t work out for whatever reason, you can drop that person and continue marketing your business to find new clients that are a better fit.
Freelance writing also has its negatives to consider, too. Not all of the work you do will involve writing. You will have to take care of all aspects of your business including marketing, bookkeeping, and other things. The work isn’t always consistent and you may not always get paid on time.
Regardless of the type of business you choose to start, you are going to have both good and bad days. With freelance writing, I think the bad days are a lot like having a bad day at the beach. Hey, you’re still at the beach, right?